Catie’s Secret Kindle Fire Kid Pack Giveaway from Laura Nonemaker – Blog Tour & Review

Cover Rating:

Series: God’s Secret Garden Adventures
Date Published: November 5, 2012
Pages: 32
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Author: Laura Allen Nonemaker
Genre: Children’s Fiction
ISBN-10: 1625101236
ISBN-13: 978-1625101235
Book Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tate Publishing for my honest review.


Catie Caterpillar looks different from any bug Herbie and Bella have ever seen. When Herbie makes fun of Catie, Mayor Benny shows him why he should not judge anyone by how they look. In the end, Catie reveals a secret and the bunnies learn the joy of forgiveness. Catie’s Secret is the third book in Laura Allen Nonemaker’s children’s series, God’s Secret Garden Adventures. Like the two previous books, Benny’s Angel and Fred D’s Amazing Escape, Catie’s Secret invites young readers to join an exciting adventure while it teaches a valuable lesson.

You can purchase it Here: Amazon

Author Bio:
Laura’s desire to write took root as a child in Bermuda, when a favorite teacher at Mt. St. Agnes Academy published one of her essays in the local newspaper. Her aspiration sprouted again in Louisville, Kentucky during the 1980s, when she conceived the idea for TecNotes, a newsletter she wrote and edited for TubeTec Inc. During this period, she also studied commercial art at Jefferson Community College. Since then, Laura has written in a variety of genres and her work has appeared in Essence Treasury: Celebrating the Season, Alive!, Kentucky Monthly magazine and Focus on the Family Clubhouse JR magazine.
You can find Laura Here: Author Page * Facebook * Goodreads
Catie’s Secret is about two bunnies, Herbie and Bella, who like to a place called Peaceful Meadow in God’s Secret Garden. It’s called Peaceful Meadow because it is a peaceful and happy place. Herbie and Bella come across a very unusual bug the likes of which they have never seen. They son learn that she is a caterpillar and her name is Catie. When Herbie begins to tease Catie because she is different their uncle, Mayor Benny, points out things that are different on the surface but have beauty on the inside such as Catie the caterpillar.
This is such an adorable story and, the best part is, it teaches a lesson. Children are not only entertained but they learn something in the process. They learn that no matter how we look on the outside we are all very special and that teasing and making fun of others can be very hurtful. This book would be great to read to small children and they will absolutely love the illustrations. I love a story with a moral and I definitely recommend it.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.
My Rating:

Click to Tweet: Teasing others might seem like fun but words can be very hurtful.

Q & A: I ask the question… you supply the answer. 🙂

Do you have children? And, if so, do you have a favorite children’s book to read to them? What book is it? Let me know by leaving a comment below. 🙂

Catie’s Secret is the second book in Laura Allen Nonemaker’s children’s series, God’s Secret Garden Adventures. Laura is celebrating Catie’s Secret with a Kindle Fire Kid Pack giveaway!


  One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • Butterfly Pavilion Hatching Kit
  • Butterfly Pattern Carryall Bag
  • Butterfly Suncatcher Kit
  • Benny’s Angel T-Shirt (small)
  • Catie’s Secret and Benny’s Angel with free E-Live audio downloads by Laura Nonemaker

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 23rd. Winner will be announced November 25th at Laura’s blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Laura’s blog on the 25th to see if you won.

His Saving Grace by Heather Gray – Blog Tour & Review

Cover Rating:

Date Published: July 29, 2013
Pages: 113
Publisher: Astraea Press
Author: Heather Gray
Genre: Christian Fiction, Regency Romance
ASIN: B00E891FV2
Book Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Astraea Press for my honest review.


Will she be able to save him from himself?

Grace finds herself wed to a man who loathes her. She is shunned and exiled to the farthest corner of the land. It wouldn’t hurt so much if he hadn’t once been her best friend.

Thomas became a duke long before he was ready. Now he can’t go anywhere without women trying to entrap him into marriage. He expected better from his childhood friend.

How can friendship, let alone marriage, thrive in the face of bitterness, suspicion and misunderstanding?

What’s to be done when the hurtful choices made in anger have lasting consequences?

It takes a special kind of person to see past the pain to the beauty that lies beyond…

You can purchase it Here:
Barnes & Noble  *  Amazon

Author Bio:

Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

You can find Heather Here:
Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Blog

Grace and Thomas had been best friends since they were young. He was someone she could always turn to. So when she asked her father if she could have a Season and he said some very hurtful things, it was Thomas who gave her comfort. But when Lady Appleton found them in an embrace there was nothing to do but get married of ruin her reputation. But could she make him understand that it was a complete accident and she hadn’t contrived to trap him into marriage or would he forever believe her capable of such an act?

Thomas had always loved Grace’s spirit and outspokenness. Ever since childhood he had enjoyed spending time with her. Having inherited his father’s estate and title as duke at a young age, women were constantly trying to trap him into marriage. When he was discovered comforting Grace and forced into marriage he assumed she had tricked him like so many others had tried and he was furious with her. But on their way to his castle in Northumberland, Thomas’ conscience began plaguing him and he knew he had been treating Grace unfairly. Was his conscience also trying to tell him he loved her? Could they have a marriage in more than name only?

This was a short novella at only 113 pages but a very delightful story. I loved Grace’s sharp wit and unconventional ways but I truly wanted to shake Thomas in the beginning. I warmed up to him quickly, though. Thomas’ valet and friend, Rupert, was a delight especially once he loosened up. The story was believable and the characters were endearing. The attention to detail was was great also. Bottom line, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if you love novellas set in England you will love it. Definitely recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Astraea Press for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:

Click to Tweet: They were childhood friends forced into marriage. Could they find love?

Q & A: I ask the question… you supply the answer. 🙂

In London, in years past, simply being caught in an embrace was grounds for an immediate marriage. Grace and Thomas were forced into marriage when Lady Appleton found Thomas comforting Grace. In modern times actions such as this are completely over looked. Do you feel that etiquette in today’s world is too loose and in the earlier days it was too strict? Or should there be a middle ground? What are your thoughts? Let me know by leaving a comment below. 🙂

Big Sky Bachelor by Lesley Ann McDaniel – Review & Blog Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***

LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, and theatre. While earning a degree in acting, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God’s guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of women’s fiction. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and of a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area.

Visit the author’s website.


Janessa Greene is leaving Thornton Springs

All she’s ever wanted is to attend cooking school in Seattle. But when a big-shot rodeo rider comes to work on her family’s Montana ranch, Janessa’s determined not to let the cowboy distract her from her goal no matter how charming he is.

Micah was a rodeo star, but he’s been trampled by one bull too many. While he’s deciding his next move, he gets sidetracked by a pretty cowgirl who’s headed out of town. Can Micah convince her to take a chance on a cowboy ready to put down roots?

Product Details:

List Price: $4.99

Series: Heartsong Presents (Book 1068)

Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0373486790

ISBN-13: 978-0373486793:


But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Chapter 1

Janessa Greene could have sworn her old hatchback lost a little more oomph with each passing day. As she pulled off the highway and through the Bar-G Ranch gate, she sent up a prayer. No way could she spend money on her car right now—not with all the expenses she had coming up. Both she and her car would have to go the extra mile for just a while longer.

As she gunned down the long stretch toward the house, the sight of twenty or so impatient-looking parents standing outside their horse trailers made her stomach buckle. She checked the clock on the dash and grimaced. Why did they all have to be so prompt on the days when she was running behind?

She clattered to a halt between the house and the barn, then gathered up her work bag and purse. Leaping out of the car, she gave the parents a quick wave. “I’ll only be a sec!”

A grating mixture of grumbles and moans followed her as she ran toward the front porch steps. She winced. Those folks had paid good money to have her teach their kids to ride this summer, and they had every right to expect her to deliver her best. She had tried to get there on time. If only the restaurant would stop being so busy on her class days.

She scurried inside, slowing only to push the door shut and to gather up the mail from the table next to it. Flipping through the stack as she bounded across the foyer, she held her breath. Today had to be the day.

“Argh!” She tossed the pile of pure disappointment onto the bench at the base of the staircase, gripped the bannister, and charged up. It was July already. Shouldn’t she have heard by now?

Reaching the top step in record time, she darted across the hall and into her room. She kicked the door closed, dropped her bags on the bed, and tore off her grease-splattered tee, then grabbed a plaid cotton western shirt from the back of her desk chair. As she yanked it on, a rap on the door gave her a jolt.

“Ness, it’s Courtney.”

Her fingers found the shirt buttons as she searched the floor for a pair of jeans. “I’ll be right out.”

“I can go down and get the kids started if you want.”

“Really?” Relief surged as she retrieved some decently-clean Levis off the window seat. “That would make you my favorite sister-in-law.”

Courtney’s laugh sounded through the door. “I’m your only sister-in-law. Besides, you know I love those kids.”

Janessa breathed a little easier. The parents would feel better seeing Courtney, but she’d still have to hustle.

As she fumbled with her cuff button, her focus fixed on the poster over the desk. A plain chef’s jacket hung on a fancy wire hanger with the words ‘Le Cordon Bleu—L’Art Culinaire’ above, and the logo of the school below.

Leaving her second cuff undone, she tugged at the laces on her white SlipGrips—great for the kitchen but definitely not for the arena—and allowed her thoughts to stray. Le Cordon Bleu had been her dream ever since she’d realized she wanted to be a chef. Not only was it a great school, but they had a location in Seattle, not far from Thornton Springs. She bit her lip and yanked at the second lace. Okay, not too far to drive home for holidays and an occasional weekend, anyway. Montana only seemed like a million miles away from everything truly exciting in the world.

She kicked off the shoes. For as long as she could remember, all she’d wanted was to get out of Thornton Springs. Now that she had finally graduated from high school and worked for a year to save up money, her plans were just about to jell.

Flinging herself onto the bed, she quickly replaced her white Dockers with the jeans. She rolled onto her belly to reach under the bed, pulling out one boot, then a second.

She maneuvered into a sitting position, then yanked on the boots and scanned the immediate vicinity for her belt. Her eyes flicked across the framed photo that sat on her bedside table, momentarily sidetracking her with the familiar combination of comfort and sorrow that always accompanied it. Absentmindedly fingering the ever-present heart-shaped diamond necklace at her throat, she wondered for the zillionth time how different her life would be if her dad was still here. He had her heart, even after being gone for so many years.

Forcing her thoughts back to the task at hand, she plucked up her floral-shammed pillow from the head of the bed and let out a mini-cry of victory. She dove for a large gold buckle that peeked out from under her sloppily-placed duvet, then swung her legs around and clamored to her feet. She quickly looped the belt into her jeans and grabbed a hair band off her bedside table, then dug through the pile of hats on the chair next to the door. She paused, running her hand over her Le Cordon Bleu ball cap. Her mind latched onto the one problem with her plan, the magnitude of which grew with each passing day.

What if the school didn’t accept her?

Shoving away the thought, she snapped up her favorite white cowgirl hat and plunked it onto her head. She just couldn’t let herself think that way. It was only July. There was still plenty of time for her to hear from them. Besides, if she didn’t get in, they’d send a rejection letter. No news didn’t necessarily mean bad news.

She darted back out into the hallway and took the stairs two at a time, awkwardly yanking her hair into a ponytail as she flew.

Making her way across the drive, she saw that Courtney had gotten the class started preparing their horses. A few parents lingered along the outside of the fence, but most of them had left, probably furious at her for cutting short their hour to go get things done.

Rushing into the barn, she grabbed a curry comb off its hook on the wall and greeted her horse. “Hey, Miss Molly.” As she ran the comb quickly across Molly’s back, she mumbled to herself. She’d have to do a better job of grooming her later on.

Tossing down the comb, she took up the brush. “Sorry, baby. You deserve better than this.” Moving around to the horse’s other side, she realized she’d left her second cuff undone. She fumbled with the button as she continued to brush Molly, but since she actually needed both hands to accomplish each task, she succeeded only in scratching her wrist with the bristles.

“Youch!” She jumped back, pulling up her sleeve to examine the scratch.

“Works better if you use the brush on the horse.”

The confident baritone behind her nearly startled her out of her skin. She whipped around to see a guy hoisting a saddle up onto the rack on the wall, glancing over his shoulder and smirking like the feline friend of the recently departed canary.

“What in the…?” Her tone came out a little more venomous than she’d intended, but he looked like a guy who could handle it. She’d been standing there talking to her horse. Why hadn’t he made his presence known?

“Hey, I noticed that mare has some weeds stuck in her mane.” Speaking without even looking at her now, he secured the saddle. “You know, if you don’t have time to groom your horse correctly, you don’t have time to own a horse.”

Her jaw went slack. She’d been riding her whole life. This was her horse and her barn, and this guy—whoever he was—had no right to admonish her. Questions swirled in her brain, and she spit out the first one she could latch onto. “Who are you?”

Chuckling lightly as he finally turned to face her, he radiated an air of belonging that implied she was the outsider here, not him. His lack of a swift answer to her question gave the impression that he thought she should somehow already know who he was—like he was some kind of celebrity or something.

“Well…?” She seethed. Not only had he made her even later by springing up behind her like that, but he had implied that she wasn’t properly caring for her horse. And now he wouldn’t even identify himself.

Flashing a gleaming white smile that dented a dimple in his cheek, he ambled toward her. He pushed up the brim of his well-worn tan Stetson, revealing tousled blond hair and a pair of eyes so clear and blue they conjured an instant image of Flathead Lake on a hot summer day.

She gulped. As much as she hated to admit it, this guy was the best looking thing to hit Thornton Springs since Jeffrey Mark Caulfield came to town to make that movie last year.

“Name’s Micah.” Stepping confidently close to her, he held out a hand. “I started work here this morning.”

Oh. Of course. She’d forgotten all about the new ranch hand her brother Adam had hired.

Twisting her mouth in irritation at his obvious lack of first day self-consciousness, she reached out for a quick shake. “I’m Janessa.” Hoping to convey a lack of interest in further conversation, she returned to brushing Molly. Time was wasting.

“Pleasure to meet you, Janessa.” After a long moment of studying her the way you would an auction horse you were considering bidding on, he dipped the brim of his hat and strode out of the barn.

Her hand slowed on Molly’s back as she furtively witnessed his exit. She gave herself a mental shake. What was the matter with her? Standing there gawking like a schoolgirl when she needed to get to her class.

Irritation swelled in her gut. Just what she didn’t need, another pointless distraction from what really mattered—making the money to escape Thornton Springs and get her life off the ground.

As she hurried over to fetch her tack, her gaze again drifted to the doorway, but he had moved out of view. Guys. That was one thing she just couldn’t waste time thinking about right now.

She clicked her tongue. Of course, not thinking about them would be a whole lot easier if God didn’t make some of them so all-fired nice to look at.


My Review:

Janessa Greene only wanted one thing–to go to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Ever since she was a young girl and used to cook for her daddy it had been her greatest desire. When her daddy passed away her desire became stronger, whether for her daddy or for her she had lost site of. She was determined to see it happen but when Micah Brody showed up she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted anymore and there inlayed the problem. Micah showed up as a ranch hand her brother Adam hired to work on the Bar-G but she soon discovers there’s more to Micah than meets the eye. It’s soon all over Thorton Springs that he is THE Micah Brody–national rodeo champion. When Janessa gets roped into competing in the team roping competition by Micah, it’s not long before he ropes her heart as well.

Micah Brody was tired of the limelight, tired of bull riding, tired of the meaningless relationships, and tired of his hostile relationship with his dad. After a serious injury while competing, Micah decided he wanted a change and Thorton Springs seemed like a good place to start. Hiring on at the Bar-G was the first step in a normal life but as soon as he though he had found “normal” he met Janessa Greene. Janessa’s family owned the ranch and from the moment he met her he knew she was different. It doesn’t take long for Micah to learn that Janessa has plans that don’t include Thorton Springs or him. Her dream is in Seattle and she is determined to see it through. While Micah is fighting the demons from his past, Janessa is struggling with her dreams for the future. Will they both realize what they could have in the present is what is the most important?

At just 192 pages this is a quick read but it packs a big punch. It’s a story of hopes, dream and, most importantly, faith. Micah went from a broken relationship with God to a fulfilling one. He turned to God to heal his own heart and his relationship with his dad and, in a sense, the story of the prodigal son was woven throughout the pages. Janessa had her own struggles. She was working so hard to get into culinary school that she lost sight of what was important. Her eyes were soon opened and the result was a heart warming story that will bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eyes. I loved the storyline and the characters and I was saddened to see the book end. This book is part of a series but it can definitely be read as a stand alone. I thoroughly enjoyed Micah’s and Janessa’s and I do recommend it. Whether you like short stories or long novels, you’re bound to be entertained.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:

Click to Tweet: Getting Old Blue up and running was just one way to Janessa’s heart.”

Q & A: I ask the question… you supply the answer. 🙂

Micah fought a hard battle with his father to the point of running away from the life he knew so he could live the life he wanted. Have you ever felt pressured by someone close to you to follow a path you don’t feel in your heart is right for you? Leave a comment below and share your story.

The One Year Book of Amish Peace by Tricia Goyer – Review & Blog Tour

Untitled Document

Cover Rating:

Date Published: September 20, 2013
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Author: Tricia Goyer
Genre: Christian Fiction, Devotional
Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review.

Let the simplicity of the Amish draw you closer to God.

In this instantly connected world, it’s surprisingly easy to lose our connection to God.

What’s admirable about the Amish lifestyle is that it intentionally slows the pace of life so there’s an opportunity to see the everyday grandeur of our great God.

Not everyone can—or should—adopt an Amish lifestyle. But the Amish can inspire all of us to slow down and simplify our lives. We need to learn to let go of our glittering gadgets in order to grab hold of something of infinitely greater value—the Divine.

The One Year Book of Amish Peace will inspire you to set a sustainable pace of life so that you, too, can take the time to enjoy God’s gifts each and every day.

You can purchase it Here:
Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  CBD  *  IndieBound  *  BAM

Cover Rating:

While you’re buying a copy of The One Year Book of Amish Peace pick up a copy of tricia’s latest Christmas book, A Christmas Gift for Rose, as well. If you like you can read my review Here. Read the blurb below.

Rose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II—only to discover she’s an Englischer herself. Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work. Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind—Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.

You can purchase it Here:
Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  CBD  *  IndieBound  *  BAM

Author Bio:

Tricia Goyer has written more than thirty-five books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and non- fiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts,Thriving Family, Proverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine.

Goyer’s fiction and non-fiction books have won awards from the American Christian Fiction Writers and Mt. Hermon Writers’ Conference. She is also a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee.

Tricia has authored several books on family and parenting, as well as co-written with Max Lucado and Robin Jones Gunn. She collaborated with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges for Lead Your Family Like Jesus, published by Focus on the Family/Tyndale.

You can find Tricia Here:
Website  *  Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Blog  *  Pinterest

I have always been fascinated by the Amish. Their Faith. Their customs. Their mannerisms. Something about them just draws me and makes me want to know more. I guess that’s why I love Amish fiction. I also love daily devotionals. Putting them both together is absolutely perfect for me and, I believe, shear genius! With The One a Year Book of Amish Peace you have the best of both all in one book. I love the way Tricia Goyer compiles all of this information. Each page (one for each day of the year) contains a world of knowledge. She starts with a scripture, as all devotionals do, she then gives a bit of Amish wisdom or proverb but, the best part is, she turns that tidbit of knowledge into a Bible lesson for the day. It also contains footnotes directing you to the original source when applicable.

So you learn about the Amish and enjoy a closer relationship with God at the same time. Speaking as someone that adores our Creator and loves all things Amish, in my opinion it doesn’t get much better than that. Tricia has really out done herself with this compilation. If you love the Amish faith and want to draw closer to God, you will positively love this book. Being a fan of the Amish faith isn’t a requirement, though. You will still learn the Biblical knowledge you need for a stronger relationship with the One who loves you beyond measure. I can honestly say I have read several devotionals over the years but this one is, by far, my favorite yet. If you haven’t read it yet I encourage you to pick up a copy.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:

~Simple Amish Recipes~
Check out these delicious Amish recipes. Amish Breakfast Casserole and Fastnachts. My favorite is the recipe for Amish Happiness. 🙂 Just click the image below for a larger view.

Review: A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

Cover Rating:

Series: Unexpected Brides Series, Book 1
Date Published: October 1, 2013
Pages: 336
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Author: Melissa Jagears
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Romance
ISBN-10: 0764211684
ISBN-13: 978-0764211683
Book Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for my honest review.


Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won’t humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again–not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, and it’s just not possible she’s there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she’s determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Amazon  *  BAM  *  CBD

Author Bio:

Melissa Jagears, an ESL teacher by trade, is a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. She’s a member of ACFW and CROWN fiction marketing, and her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. “A Bride for Keeps” is her first novel.

You can find Melissa Here:
Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  *  
Goodreads  *  Pinterest

My Review:

Everett Cline had been jilted enough to wound any man’s pride. After his best friend’s sister-in-law left him for another man he decided to try his luck with mail-order brides only to be jilted by three more women. With a bruised ego, as well as a bruised heart, Everett refused to go that route again. Even though he longed for the companionship of a good woman he would no longer be fodder for town gossip. But when his best friend’s wife, Rachel, ordered a bride without his knowledge he found himself enamored with the beautiful Julia Lockwood. Even though he would like nothing better than to have her by his side he knows he must guard his heart. What if she leaves him like the others? Surely this time would break his heart but can he love her completely and, at the same time, live with a marriage of convenience?

Julia Lockwood fled from Boston for two reasons, to get away from her father’s scheming ambitions and to put distance between herself and a horrible nightmare. Why else would she agree to be a mail-order bride? All Julia had were her looks, or so she had been told, so what man would want her for anything more? Everett was a kind man but Julia felt she had to prove her worth. She worked as hard as any man but she was afraid that when Everett found out about her past he would no longer want her. How could he love her if he knew? Her past also kept her from accepting the love of her Heavenly Father. Could Everett help her come to understand her own self-worth, not only in her eyes, but in his eyes and the eyes of God as well? Can she come to love her husband despite her fears? Will God heal her heart and give her the love she never dreamed she would have?

Let me start by saying I absolutely loved this book. This is the first book I have read by Melissa Jagears but I am already looking forward to the next one (hmmm maybe one about William?). The plot is one that is always a pleasing read to me. Both Everett and Julia had feelings for each other but kept them to themselves which made for some great tension. Julia’s feelings surfaced more toward the end but there were little hints earlier on that she didn’t seem to recognize as the beginnings of love. Although this type of plot isn’t new it sure had some new angles that enriched the story. I won’t give away any significant parts (no spoilers here) but it also dealt with an issue that is rarely addressed in historical fiction and I loved that. I loved Everett’s heart too. It was as big and wide as the land he lived on and the way he loved Julia through her fears and doubts only endeared him to me more. If you love historical fiction and great story lines you will absolutely love A Bride for Keeps. I highly and irrevocably recommend it!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:


A Bride For Keeps Chapter 1 KANSAS SPRING 1876 Everett Cline loosened his grip on the mercantile’s doorknob and let the door shut behind him. Kathleen Hampden waddled straight toward him, the white feathers in her hat dancing like bluestem grass in the late March breeze. In the three years she’d been married to the store’s owner instead of him, couldn’t she have bought a new hat? He hadn’t talked to her alone since the day she arrived in Salt Flatts with those identifying white feathers he’d been told to expect, but he hadn’t anticipated her being married to Carl before she stepped o# the train. Why hadn’t she thrown her hat out a passenger car window and pretended she’d never been his mail-order bride? “Afternoon, ma’am. Is your husband around?” He glanced behind the long glossy counter cluttered with candy jars and sundry items and saw that the door to the empty back room stood ajar. The two overflowing shelves that cut the store into thirds kept him from being able to see into every corner. The fabric table was a jumbled mess, and 9 a few potatoes lay on the floor in the corner, escaped from their bin. Were they the only ones in the store? Mrs. Hampden stopped three feet from him, the tang of the wood polish on her rag warring with the leather and tobacco smells permeating the room. She was such a tiny thing, even large with child. Perhaps it was a good thing she had married Carl. If she worked outside as Everett did every day, the wind would have blown her away sooner or later. “Mr. Hampden’s away on business, otherwise he’d have rushed out at the bell. Especially since it’s you.” Her cheeks pinked. Carl needn’t worry about him. Stealing someone’s mailorder bride was di#erent from stealing someone’s wife. Everett fidgeted. “He has no reason to be concerned.” “I know.” She rubbed her swollen stomach. “But he’s still worried your good looks might make me wish I’d chosen differently.” The skin under his collar grew warm, and he pulled at the strangling fabric. He might be a decent-looking sort of man, but a lot of good that did him. “I hope you have better luck today than you did with me, and you know . . . the others.” She bit her lip. “I’m sure this time it will be for keeps.” He swallowed hard and eyed her. What was she talking about? Surely another rumor about him ordering a bride again wasn’t circulating. “I’m afraid I don’t understand.” “It’s all right. Rachel told me.” Her voice was hushed, as if someone might hear. He leaned down and whispered back. “Told you what?” “About the lady coming on the afternoon train. She said you’d need prayer.” Rachel. 10 He ran his tongue along his teeth and nodded absently. Surely his best friend’s wife wasn’t pulling another one of her matchmaking schemes. She’d tried to set him up with every girl in the county since the day her sister, Patricia, had left him for someone else. When matchmaking failed, she’d pushed him into mail-order bride advertisements. If she’d gone and ordered another one for him, by golly— “I hope I haven’t upset you.” Mrs. Hampden’s concerned tone reminded him of her presence. “I haven’t told anyone since . . . well, you know how they are.” Yes, the townsfolk. Everett clenched his teeth. Every unescorted woman who stepped o# the train was asked if she belonged to Everett Cline. When she answered negatively, some young man in the gathered crowd would drop to his knee and propose. He stared at the saddle soap on the shelf beside him. What had he come in here for? “I wish you luck.” Mrs. Hampden’s eyes looked dewy. Everett squashed the felt brim of his hat in his clammy hands. Third time’s a charm hadn’t worked for him, and he’d never heard anything like the fourth’s a keeper. There wouldn’t be a fourth time for him. Well, fifth, if he added being jilted by Patricia so long ago. Was there a saying akin to five failures prove a fool? He was a hairsbreadth away from confirming himself a dunce. “You have nothing to wish me luck for.” “Oh, Everett, surely this time it will work.” “Really, Mrs. Hampden, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “I can understand why you don’t want to say anything, but I’m the last person in Salt Flatts who would tease you.” He’d let her believe whatever she wanted, because nothing 11 would happen. “Thanks just the same.” He smashed his hat back on and hightailed it out the door, down the steps, and toward the weathered wagon belonging to his neighbors. Was this why Rachel insisted they needed him in town even though any train porter could have helped her husband load the shipment she was waiting on? He wouldn’t believe it. She wouldn’t do that. “Come on now, Everett,” she’d said. “You can’t avoid town forever. Surely you have supplies to get.” He reached into his pocket, clasped his scribbled list, and stopped in the middle of the road. Rachel wouldn’t have gone so far as to invite another woman to Salt Flatts to marry him without even telling him. Would she? A horse sidestepped beside him, the boot of its rider grazing his arm. “Hey, watch what you’re doing.” The cowboy glared down at him, the stench of bovine overpowering the scent of the cheap cigar wiggling between his lips. Everett turned and scurried across the dusty road and onto the boardwalk. He glanced at his list. Should he return to the mercantile and face Kathleen again or confront Rachel? Neither would be pleasant. “Got me a letter to send, Everett?” Jedidiah Langston stepped out of the false-front post o$ce and stood next to his son, eighteen-year-old Axel, who perched on a stool, absently whittling a stick. A smirk twitched the corners of the younger man’s mouth. Everett’s hand itched to swipe the boy’s lips clean o# his face, but he shook his head instead. He hadn’t personally posted something for over a year—always sent his mail in with the Stantons—but it seemed as if Rachel had decided to mail some correspondence for him. “Surely you’re hankerin’ for another bride by now. Helga’s 12 been Mrs. Parker for plumb near a year. Seems to me it’s about time you up and tried again.” Axel chuckled at his father’s joke, and Everett scowled at the mention of his third—and absolutely last—mail-order bride. He crammed the shopping list back into his pocket. “No letter, gentlemen.” “Axel needs a wife about as bad as I need him o# of my porch.” Jedidiah glared at his lazy son, who only rolled his eyes. “Maybe your next one can marry him.” Axel sliced the tip of his pointy stick. “Only if he orders a stunner this time.” Any woman dumb enough to marry that boy would have to work to support them both. Everett tipped his hat. “Good day, gentlemen.” He’d been Axel’s age eighteen years ago, but he’d at least had some gumption, a promising future, and an adoring girl on his arm. Yet he was still single. A mail-order bride was probably the boy’s only hope, though Everett doubted he’d ever try for one. Axel’s ma had once been a mail-order bride, and when her marriage plans hadn’t worked out, she’d wooed Jedidiah over real fast. Mrs. Langston was hardly ever seen in town, and Jedidiah never talked about her but in disdain. Axel’s parents’ animosity toward each other didn’t help the boy’s disposition—as prickly as a cocklebur and as useful as one too. Everett marched over to the train platform and scanned the crowd. Rachel was nowhere in sight, but her husband, Dex, reclined on his wagon’s bench seat, hat pulled over his face. His soft snores jostled the brim resting on his nose. He couldn’t know his wife had hatched another scheme. That joker wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face when 13 Rachel insisted they needed help. And he’d be too antsy to tease the daylights out of Everett now to be sleeping. Perhaps Mrs. Hampden had made a mistake and assumed too much. The town loved to conspire, and though Dex was a joker, the Stantons wouldn’t plot against him like that. No, Mrs. Hampden had to be mistaken. Everett stopped at the depot’s window and perused the station’s chalkboard schedule. Thirty minutes until the train arrived. The bunch of wild flowers he’d picked before leaving home lay piled in his wagon bed. He snatched them and headed for the cemetery. “Everett!” a voice called out, and he turned to see Carl Hampden hotfooting it from the livery straight toward him. The tilt of his head and the look in his eyes reminded Everett of a charging bull. He stopped and tensed, half expecting the man to reach for a sidearm. “Carl?” “Where are you going with those?” He pointed to the flowers. Everett released his stranglehold on the prairie bouquet and kept his lips from twitching up into a smile. He stood but ten feet from the mercantile entrance. “They’re not for your wife, if that’s what you’re worried about.” “Who are they for, then?” Carl backed up, but the heat hadn’t left his gaze. “I don’t exactly believe that’s your business.” Carl leaned closer. He’d evidently had garlic for lunch. What did it really matter if Carl knew? “They’re for Adelaide Gooding.” “Who?” Carl cocked an eyebrow. Everett sighed. “My first bride.” “Ah, I see . . . I guess.” Carl relaxed. “Well, carry on.” 14 As if he needed the man’s permission. He snatched Carl’s sleeve and dug out his list. “Would you gather these items for me? I’ll return within an hour.” Carl folded the note and tipped his hat. Everett strolled through town, keeping the jonquils tucked by his side. Why did he keep taking her flowers anyway? He looked at the sad, flaccid mess in his hands. Because no one else would—and that was his fault. He stepped through the gap in the waist-high stone wall, marched straight up to Adelaide’s grave, and laid the flowers at her feet. “I’m afraid they’re wilted, but they’re better than what you have.” Which was nothing. He lowered himself to the ground and stared at her headstone. He hadn’t even known what birth date to engrave for his first mail-order bride, but he’d done his best. Even wrote an epitaph: Longawaited and Missed. Everett glanced around to make certain no one else was near. “Have you heard any talk about me lately? Seems Mrs. Hampden thinks I’m crazy enough to try marrying up again.” He grabbed a twig and scratched at the dirt. “I wish you’d held on for a few more hours. At least so I could have told you that I . . .” He tossed his stick. Had he loved her? He would have. But he no longer had any stir of feelings for this woman he’d never met. Closing his eyes, he conjured up the one image he had of Adelaide. Wrapped in a rough woolen blanket, her face white as clouds, hair dark as a raven’s wing, and her mouth, crooked and still as a fence post. The fever had stolen her breath and his hope. The low hum of metal wheels against iron track rumbled from far of. With the toe of his boot, he shoved a stray jonquil back into his jumbled pile. “Maybe if I’d lived along 15 the Mississippi, I’d have had better luck ordering brides by steamboat.” He snorted, and a gray-green pigeon above him fussed. “So you don’t think so?” A whistle sounded. “Rachel’s always wanted a pianoforte. Please let it be a piano.” But she’d asked Mrs. Hampden for prayer . . . and surely nothing she could order would be so heavy she’d beseech God’s assistance. The tremor of the approaching train pulsed through the soles of his feet. What if there was another woman on that train coming for him? He clenched his trembling fingers. Patricia had jilted him. Then Adelaide arrived dead, Kathleen disembarked married to the shopkeeper, and Helga left him for another man with a better farm within a week of arriving. He couldn’t begin to imagine what a fourth mail-order bride might do. But he wouldn’t allow another bride to make a fool of him again. ************** She’d made a mistake. A huge, irrevocable mistake. Julia Lockwood stared out the train’s window, watching the flat Kansas land sail behind her, mile after mile. Nothing but waving grasses, clumps of trees, and a few outcroppings of rocks. The vacant prairie lands wouldn’t conceal the past she ran from, and the man awaiting her wouldn’t make it better—only worse. What had possessed her to believe this was a good idea? She set her bag aside to stand. “Young lady, you are making me queasy with your ups and downs, to-and-fros.” The buxom woman across from her swished a fan violently. “Please, for once sit still.” Julia hesitated, hovering above her seat. Her nerves wouldn’t obey the woman’s pinched-mouthed decree. “I’m sorry. When I return, I’ll try not to get up again.” The woman huffed. “Yes, do.” 16 Holding in her split pannier overskirt, she swayed easily through the center aisle of the railroad car. A few days of travel had made her an expert at walking in a moving train. She grabbed a strap hanging from the ceiling to make room for a young frizzy-haired girl to pass. The porter at the front of the car straightened. “May I do something for you, miss?” “Nothing, Henry. Unless you can make this car go faster . . . or slower.” She bit her lip. “How much longer until Salt Flatts?” “Not too long. Just a hop and a skip. We’ll be there before you know it.” His smile stretched across his face, slicing his dark skin with a glimmering white. “I reckon you’ll be just fine, miss.” Just fine? When she’d agreed to marry a man with whom she’d never even exchanged a single letter? No. Not fine. The thought of being close to any man again made her stomach churn. “But one thing I’d be doing is stop playing with that there brooch. You’re going to be wearing off its shine.” She released her mother’s portrait clipped to her collar, her fingers red from rubbing the gold filigree frame. “Perhaps I am a bit nervous.” “I suspect you don’t have to be anxious for nothing.” If only that were true. But there was nothing to be done now. She couldn’t very well jump off the train. Oh, why hadn’t she gotten off at the last stop? Stiffy, she returned to her seat. The large woman across from her glared from behind that ever-swishing fan and sighed. Her husband leaned forward. “You worried about meeting someone?” Julia nodded, wishing her whole life didn’t depend on a 17 man she’d never met. Why had she handed some stranger a hold over her? She wanted to see Rachel Stanton, the woman she’d corresponded with for the past few months, but she should have come simply to visit Rachel. Instead, she’d panicked and promised her life away in matrimony when Rachel had mentioned her husband’s friend would be interested in a mail-order bride. Would Rachel and Dex Stanton o#er their hospitality if she didn’t follow through with marrying Everett Cline? The sourness in her stomach crept toward her throat. “A fella, I suppose?” Feeling color invade her cheeks, she shrugged. “Stop worrying. No fella’d be sorry to see a girl like you step off this train.” No. No lonely fellow would. That was part of the problem. Maybe she should have worn her day dress instead of her best silk. Henry walked the aisle, touching headrests as he passed. “Next stop, Salt Flatts.” Her heart doubled its rhythm. A friend awaited her . . . but so did a man. Last chance. Stay in the seat or meet her potential husband? He’d want an intimacy from her she wasn’t ready to give anytime soon. She wrapped her arms about her waist and suppressed a moan. What choice did she have? ************** The locomotive’s gleaming chimney loomed. Its acrid smoke rolled over the prairie land surrounding Salt Flatts, marring the gray-blue sky. Everett paced on the crowded train platform, wondering if Rachel had indeed set him up. He scanned the crowd. No sign of her yet. Surely she’d be waiting for the woman she intended to foist upon him if there were 18 one. He blew out a breath and ambled toward the Stantons’ wagon. He’d know soon enough. The train’s whistle scattered the birds pecking in the grass next to the tracks, and the hissing iron monster slowed. Rachel scurried across the road and up the plank ramp. Her three-yearold, Emma, bounced on her hip and waved wildly at the train. The pullman’s door opened, and Everett stared at the line of silhouettes behind the passenger car windows. Several men disembarked before a skinny woman stepped onto the rough wooden platform, her curly orange-red hair trailing across her blemished face. Rachel looked straight at the tall girl, and Everett tensed, but Rachel didn’t hail her. The young woman scurried to a waiting wagon and embraced an elderly man. Everett rubbed at the tension in his neck. More men poured out of the passenger car, and finally the porter exited and sauntered toward the depot. Everett released his pent-up breath and chuckled at himself. He’d allowed Mrs. Hampden’s foolish notions to mess with his head. “There you are.” John, Rachel’s youngest boy, rushed toward him. “Are you ready for the surprise?” A surprise for John or a surprise for him? His breath grew shallow, and he squatted to the boy’s eye level. “Do you know what it is?” John shook his dark head. “No. Ma won’t tell me. Would you ask her?” “You’re too impatient. We’ll find out soon enough.” He rubbed the boy’s head and forced himself not to walk straight toward Rachel and ask. If John was anxious, then the surprise had to be for the family, not him. Rachel wouldn’t have hinted to the children about a scheme to match him up with a stranger. 19 “There she is.” Rachel’s call ended in a high feminine squeal. She handed Emma to Dex and darted into the crowd. Dex threw him a glance before covering up a grin with his free hand. Too much amused twinkling danced in his best friend’s eyes. He’d been hoodwinked. Everett slowly pivoted toward the train. A petite, fashionably dressed lady wrestled an oversized valise through the pullman’s door and climbed cautiously down the stairs. Her ivory skirt was extraordinarily full in the back. A red sash cinched her waist, enhancing its tininess. She fingered a brooch at her neck and brushed at the veil whipping against her forehead in the wind. Dark wavy hair fell from under her straw hat, framing her perfect lips and tiny nose. He had never seen a more beautiful woman. Not even Patricia, the prettiest gal who’d ever set foot in Saline County, could compare. The woman gestured toward Rachel with a wad of papers in her hand and a question in her shoulder shrug. Rachel’s hands flung out, and she swallowed the woman in an embrace. Though one was dressed in worn homespun calico and the other in ru%es of shimmering sti# fabric, they started chattering like long-lost sisters. He pushed down the jolt that traveled up from his toes. This stunning friend of Rachel’s would never need to become a mail-order bride. She was not here for him. ************** Julia pulled away from Rachel’s third warm hug, which couldn’t calm the storm of emotions swirling within her chest. Though she rejoiced to hold this dear friend in her arms for the first time, she couldn’t help looking around the crowd 20 for him. Her heart thudded at the base of her throat. “I can hardly believe I’m here.” If she hadn’t seen Rachel waiting on the platform, almost bouncing with anticipation, she would have slouched in the leather passenger seat, dug out the last of her money, and rode the tracks a little farther. “Me neither.” Rachel hugged her again. “I never realized how much I missed having a bosom friend until I started writing you. We’ll take you home and talk all night and meet the neighbors and . . .” Rachel’s banter was infectious, but her friendliness didn’t stifle the need to know what her future husband expected. “Won’t Everett want to, uh, start things right away?” A few hundred feet away a white steeple loomed over rows of buildings, making her feel faint. She tried to imagine riding straight to the church and marrying, but she just couldn’t do it. “Do you know what he has planned?” Julia gripped Rachel’s arm, anchoring herself from rushing back to the train. “About Everett . . . I’d not bring up the marriage plans until he does, and he’ll probably give you plenty of time.” Rachel rubbed her lip and averted her gaze. What was she keeping from her? “My advice is to act as if you’ve come to court rather than run him to the altar.” “Who’s your friend, Mrs. Stanton?” The sound of undisguised male interest caused a shiver to run across Julia’s back. She wet her lips and turned toward a group of young men, the one in front a tall, scrawny thing with blond whiskers and very pink lips. He looked down at her with an amused glint in his blue eyes. Was this Everett? He was younger than she had imagined and not entirely unpleasant to look at, but his body appeared fragile for a farmer, and the flash in his eye matched his unsettling roguish tone. “You wouldn’t happen to be here for Everett Cline?” 21 What an awkward way to greet her. “I, um . . . yes. And are you he?” Rachel crossed in front of her with hands jammed on her hips. “Now, you all go on and get.” The young man’s face changed from amusement to bewilderment. “Don’t tell me she really is here for Everett.” The four young men behind him snickered. “None of your business, Axel. If you please, find somewhere else to be.” Rachel pointed toward the depot, but the group had fallen dumb and stiff. Axel cocked his head. “Then she is?” Rachel didn’t answer, and he let out an impressed hu#. Was there something so appalling about Everett that Axel couldn’t believe a woman would marry him? Maybe that’s why he needed a mail-order bride. But surely Rachel wouldn’t have matched her with a dreadful man. Rachel stared at Axel as if he were only knee-high instead of towering over them both. Julia rubbed her arms, suddenly cold and hot at the same time. Every eye in the small group of men focused on her. Men had ogled her before, but this was ridiculous. “Excuse me, gentlemen.” A man taller than Axel pushed through the group, a girl with fluffy blond ringlets hooked on his arm. “You heard my wife—find somewhere else to be. I’m sure you have better things to do than detain our guest.” The men behind Axel poked each other, talking under their breath. Everett’s name was the only word she caught. Was he here? Why hadn’t he shown himself? Axel smiled wide. “I hadn’t any faith in you, Everett, but you pulled through. She’s a beauty.” Julia stepped to the other side of Rachel and tried to see to whom Axel was speaking. Oh, why did she have to be so short? 22 Axel tipped his hat toward her. “I look forward to getting to know you better . . . Miss . . . ?” She gave a tiny nod. “Lockwood, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted.” “Of course you will.” Dex patted the boy’s shoulder dismissively and then turned to her. “It’s nice to meet you at last, Miss Lockwood. I’m Dex.” “At last?” The incredulous murmur of a deep male voice sounded behind Dex. Julia looked straight up at Rachel’s husband. The top of her hat didn’t even reach the bottom of his chest pocket. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Stanton.” “Call me Dex. And I’m assuming you’re rather interested in the gentleman behind me.” She thought her cheeks had been hot a minute ago. “The finest neighbor any man could have.” A tall shadow of a man walked toward her, but it was no stranger who lifted his hat. Theodore. No. It couldn’t be. All heat drained from her face and pooled on the platform at her feet. The ensuing shock of cold stopped her breath. He’d said he’d find her no matter how far she ran, but she hadn’t believed him. She pressed her hand against her heart, galloping in vain against her chest. “Pleased to meet you, Miss Lockwood. I’m Everett Cline.” She blinked hard at him and reached for Rachel to keep herself from falling, from running. He frowned. “Is everything all right?” His voice was wrong and his hair parted on the left and the front tooth didn’t overlap. She worked to wet her mouth enough to speak. “Mr. . . . Mr. Cline?” “I believe so.” His tickled smirk released the breath stuck 23 in her lungs. The set of his jaw was similar, but not when he smiled. Not Theodore. She released her vise grip on Rachel, who looked at her as if she’d lost her wits. Like Theodore, Everett had beautiful dark blond wavy hair, a prominent brow, and laugh lines around the eyes. He was certainly handsome—just like the man her father had chosen for her to wed. How could she marry someone whose appearance reminded her of a man she never wanted to lay eyes on again? 24 Melissa Jagears, A Bride for Keeps Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2013. Used by permission.

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Everett and Julia were brought together in a very unconventional way. Mail-order brides were very common in 1876 but such a drastic step is no longer practiced. Would you consider being a mail-order bride? Let me know by leaving a comment below. 🙂